Nigeria’s sad summer of religious rampages got worse this week with reports that a group of Christian youth, apparently seeking revenge for earlier attacks, attacked Muslims during Ramadan in Nigeria’s “middle belt” city of Jos, with at least 20 dead. Jos has historically been a religious flashpoint but recently such incidents were mainly confined to Nigeria’s Muslim north. The media doesn’t yet have all the facts but one worrying CNN report quotes a government official who accused Nigerian security forces of causing most of the fatal casualties:
Sectarian violence broke out Monday after Christian youths attacked Muslims trying to worship in a mosque that had been burned in previous clashes, according to Choji Gyang, special adviser to the Plateau state government for religious affairs.
The military was called in to stop the violence and shot into the crowd, Gyang said, adding that most of the deaths were caused by the military forces.
Hard to say; the Christian mob who attacked Muslims — ostensibly as revenge for earlier attacks on Christians — was looking for trouble and it is hard to get objective information about events like this. At Via Meadia we cannot understand how either Christians or Muslims leading mob violence can reconcile their actions with either faith, but then we are not semi-literate 18 year old unemployed youths in a region convulsed by years of ethnic and religious conflict.
With extremist (and theologically marginal) Muslims bombing the country’s UN headquarters and mob violence breaking out in the center and north, it’s clear that hot religion is going to help shape Nigeria’s future — and not in a good way.